Monday, July 30, 2007

Harry Potter

Just about everyone I know has now read the seventh and (what appears to be) final book of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. No spoilers here, BTW, because I haven't and probably won't.

No disparagement on the part of J.K. meant there - I have read a few chapters of the Philosopher's Stone, and it seems reasonably well composed. It just happens that there is a wealth of other material I wish to read more.

If, however, you've read it all and now find you want to read some more, let me recommend a few things. Thing one, before I go any further, avoid the Lord of the Rings. You're not ready for that yet. It will just put you off reading again and all that will have been wasted.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

Now, I know I just told you to stay away from one of Professor Tolkien's greater works. However, I do believe if you made it through "Goblet of Fire", you are more than ready for the Hobbit. You will find it a well crafted tale of high fantasy adventure. Elves, dragons (well, just one great dragon), goblins and trolls. Dwarves and treasure. It is crafted originally as a children's tale, and although there is a great deal of back story and legend built in, it does not get in the way of the fun.

Master of the Five Magics - Lyndon Hardy

This is a more complicated read, best introduced to the teenage types. The characters themselves are a bit forgettable, but the system of magic is the real star anyways. Mr. Hardy has taken great pains to craft a very detailed and plausible set of rules for the use and control of magic in his books. The sequels are less entertaining, but feature different characters on different journeys, so are not so very important.

Magician: Apprentice & Magician: Master - Raymond E. Feist

(originally published as a single volume, entitled Magician)

These two novels (or one I suppose if you found it before me) comprise the first portion of what is more widely know as the Riftwar Saga. I consider them among the best fantasy written in the end of the 20th century. They are a bit long taken together, but well worth the effort.

Start with those three recommendations. When you've completed that come back and we'll talk about this - Robert A. Heinlein. It will change you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And another thing!

What's the one technology we can't let go of? The one technology to make regular cable look less like poo?

That's right , the VCR. Oh no, it doesn't make the cable look better in the improved the look way. It's just so much worse that cable becomes acceptable collateral damage.

Unfortunately I have a large investment in children's programing on VHS, which refuses to find it self in the refuse. Last night I watched (actually, glanced at out of the corner of my eye, more like) Jumanji from VHS on the '42. That. Looks. Terrible. I mean really, really bad.

I look at my collection of Star Trek on VHS. I look at the TV. I look at the tapes. This going to go bad.

And how am I going to tape my shows? Oh sure I can torrent TV, but what if my ISP decides a cease and desist is in order? They've been doing that, by the way. The A/V guys insist that DVD recorders are old news. Hard Drive in a Box boxes are still 400 to 600 CDN.

And my VCR gets to cling to life.

Thursday, July 19, 2007



I just can't say enough about how totally rockin' cool Star Wars Lego II is on 42" of widescreen 720p goodness. Even movies look more better. An Xbox 360 just has to be in the works now, for this arrangement. And I think, for pure style points, it's going to have to be the Halo 3 limited edition.

This version has the HDMI, but only the 20gB hard drive. Of course Halo 3 is not included. Wait, not included? Who thought that up?

(Image shamlessly stolen from Kotaku)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Black Hole Warning!

Don't go to this link if you want to remain productive: You Don't Know Jack!

That's right, one of my favorite social PC games is now all flash. And it rocks. But I'm never going there again...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Regular TV is Poo

I mean that. In the worst possible way. And I'm not referring to the content either. The real drawback of buying a giant, hi-end display? The worst possible signal is the most common one. Yes I'm talking about SDTV. That's Standard Definition television, which decided it wasn't cool anymore and needed a new name once High Definition television came along to ruin it's day.

Low definition, pixelated, drifting crap might be more accurate. LDPDC. Try it, you'll see.

I really like my new TV, especially now that I've narrowed down the fact that only my most recent DVD player has 480p, my PS2 can't because only the slim ones do, and I'm better off just downloading or renting the show I want to watch.

My TV service (a phone company who shall remain unnamed) provider will do me the honour of providing some HiDef content. A whopping 8 channels. Two of which are sports channels. For 5 bucks a month. Which I suppose isn't to bad. Except I then need to purchase a new set-top box. For $350. And I can have it installed for just $99 more.


Not impressed. Not really impressed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Time?

(Hey - no titles! For some inexplicable reason the title box for the post form is "un-clickable". Some IE security measure no doubt.) Got it - the box is offset from the hotspot - no idea why.

Like seeing it for the first time. Last night I spent some serious quality time configuring my new TV. 42 inches of LCD goodness. I remembered that I had the THX set up tests on XMEN (they may be on other THX discs, but I knew they were on that one). After tweaking the contrast and colour even 480i looks great. So much so that when I watched The Incredibles, I noticed a whole bunch of animated goodness that just doesn't show on the 27" CRT (which, in its defense, is over 15 years old).

I literally felt I had never seen the movie before.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Larry, the Return

Larry, it seems, may be on the brink of a come back tour. Over the weekend I upgraded my TV experience with a 42" Wide Screen LCD. It's pretty cool. It goes all the way up to 1080p, but of course I don't have any devices that put that much screen out.

Except one.

DVI-D can be converted via cable to HDMI. And Larry can, technically speaking, produce a full 1080p image over this connection. Larry would be the only device in my house ready for HD.

Eventually I will probably invest in a PVR, or a better DVD player or both. The guys at Krazy Krazy said DVD recorders are old news, just go straight to PVR. I might build one out my old tower.

Actually, I should double check, but if the tower video card has a DVI port (and it may), it may be almost ready to go. No capture device right now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Zackman Cometh...

Happy birthday Zachary, who is now 6.

No, you can not play World of Warcraft yet.


Or no? I can't decide. I suspect there's still a bunch of PC games coming my way. I haven't ruled out assembling a new Frankenputer. There will never be a Dawn of War on a console. And Larry is still kinda cool.


A 360 (or even a PS3, I suppose) is half (possibly less than a third) of what I would spend on a new PC, even if I build it. And building a high end PC becomes more and more difficult when you don't make the effort to stay in the loop.

Ah, the good old days of the ASUS P3B-F. A Pentium III 450. 256 MB of RAM (what kind of ram, I have no idea. PC 33? PC 66?). The Riva TNT, 64 mb. And Diablo II to rule them all...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No Post Apocalypta? (v1.1)

NC Soft has announced that they will shutdown the Auto Assault servers at the end of August, for the final time. I will not be billed for my account up to then.

Interestingly, I read recently (can't say where to credit it) that this is how all MMOs end. They have to be killed. There will always be a few people willing to go back and pay to play the game. I have to assume that this game has slipped so far below profitability, that it's just not worth it anymore.

Since I started playing WoW, I have wondered what happens at the end of the universe. I guess, in the end, it's just a "Gnab Gib".

Now I really need to get cracking on GURPS - Apocalypse.
EDIT: If you'ld like, I found a nice article summing up here.